Caring For Your Glass Pipes

No matter what you choose to smoke, glass pipes and glass water pipes offer smokers convenience, aesthetic beauty, and most importantly, a premium, smoking experience.  However, that experience can be hindered when glass water pipes aren't regularly cleaned. Here is what you need to know about cleaning your glass pipes properly.

Why Do Your Glass And Glass Water Pipes Need To Be Cleaned?

Some people feel that the "patina" that eventually develops adds unique character to their glass pipes. Unfortunately, the residual resin or tar that collects can adversely affect the flavor of your herb, tobacco, or other smokables. It will also continue to slowly burn over time, giving off an acrid taste and aroma that is both unpleasant and unattractive. It's also probably not healthy to keep inhaling the these potentially toxic or carcinogenic compounds.  Taking the time to occasionally dissolve these compounds and reduce the sooty buildup with greatly increase your smoking experience.

How Should Glass And Glass Water Pipes Be Cleaned?

Many manufacturers of glass water pipes and the artisans that create stunning hand-blown glass pipes have their own preferred methods for cleaning, so you may want to check with them, but any number of methods that remove the resin and don't damage the pipe will work.

Before using any of these methods, you first want to manually remove what you can. Gently tap the glass on a fluffy towel to remove any loose debris. You can also firmly blow through the pipe. Next, use a piece of pipe cleaner to run it through the openings and collect any stickier bits. You can also use a deconstructed bobby pin to fish it in and out, collecting resin as you move it. Wipe this off on damp paper toweling as you go. When you have finished cleaning it manually, you are ready to finish the job with one of the methods below.

  • Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol—Head to your local drugstore and purchase a bottle of 90 percent isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Larger pipes may require two bottles. The 71 percent isopropyl rubbing alcohol will work, but as it is weaker, it will take longer. Pour the rubbing alcohol into a plastic container that is large enough for you to submerge the pipe completely. Add a couple of tablespoons of coarse or kosher salt. This will act as an abrasive. Let the pipe sit for several hours or overnight. Then simply rinse it thoroughly under running tap water and dry. You can do several pipes at once with this method; just be sure they are completely submerged.
  • Boiling Water And Dish Soap—Many people are surprised to learn you can expose your glass pipes to boiling water, but as long as it is a gentle boil rather than a rolling boil, you don't need to worry about your pipe breaking. However, this method is best done with only one pipe at a time, so they don't break one another. Add a few drops of blue liquid dish soap and simmer for about 45 minutes. Using tongs, carefully remove the pipe and place it on a fluffy towel. Allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes before rinsing in water.
  • Use A Glass Pipe Solvent—Purchase a commercially made product that is specifically designed for cleaning glass pipes. These products can be purchased online or at most local pipe shops.